Is your school safer than last year? What changes did your district make?

USA Today took a nationwide look at how school safety has changed in the months following the Sandy Hook shootings. The reporters found schools across the country making changes to building structures as well as staffing. Some schools have even armed their teachers.

From USA Today: (Read the whole article for the all the measures taken. It’s pretty long.)

“In a grim reminder that mass shootings have become a fact of life in America, school districts across the USA this fall are opting for more locked doors, more visitor check-ins and more surveillance equipment. Many have had security policies on the books for years, especially after the 1999 Columbine High School shootings. But the massacre last December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 children and six educators, introduced a new level of urgency. Suddenly, even children in elementary schools were not safe from bad guys….

“Limiting access to school property has been one of the most visible changes. School officials in Marlboro, N.J. budgeted $1.8 million this school year for security measures, including construction of “man-trap” vestibules at entrances to be completed later this fall. In Tupelo, Miss., school officials made a slew of upgrades this summer, including new playground fencing. School district officials in several states, including New York and Pennsylvania, have asked election officials to move polling places off their campuses.”

“Another common response: increasing the presence of armed law enforcement officers, particularly at elementary schools. Police officers have been assigned to all middle and high schools at South Carolina’s Greenville County School District for decades, but this year, the district has arranged for police to also make stops at all 68 elementary schools several times a day. Each of the 24 public elementary schools in Rutherford County, Tenn., has been assigned a full-time officer this year for the first time. One of their first assignments: Help organize an “intruder drill” within the first 30 days of the school year, as required by a Tennessee law passed this summer.”…

The story reports that The National Association of School Resource Officers, based in Hoover, Ala., trained more than 2,000 law officers how to work with schools. It only trained 600 the summer before.

“Schools also are basing strategies on local needs and experience. As part of its security plan, the Ricori school district in Cold Spring, Minn., where two students were killed in a 2003 school shooting, installed 170 bulletproof white boards in classrooms over the summer and trained teachers how to gather and hide children behind them.”

What security measures has your school added? Does it feel safer? Were you worried before? Are you less worried now?

24 comments Add your comment

jarvis

September 24th, 2013
8:50 am

My kids schools implemented a buzzer and camera at the door. You must stand in front of the camera and by “buzzed in” by the front office.

I’ve yet to see the school secretary even glance at the screen before pushing the unlock button.

TallMom

September 24th, 2013
8:52 am

Yes, the school has made changes. The front door is now locked all day. There is a buzzer and a camera. The front office staff has to buzz you in. If they don’t recognize you, you will be asked to show ID to the camera and they will verify your identity through your child’s school records before allowing you inside the school.

While I appreciate the extra measure of security, the sad fact is that if someone wants in the school, they’re going to get in. Classes and teachers are in and out all day long with recess, PE, parents coming & going…someone could slip in right behind them or demand to go in with them if they are armed.

jarvis

September 24th, 2013
8:53 am

Agreed TallMom….it’s window dressing.

homeschooler

September 24th, 2013
9:07 am

Agree with Jarvis and TallMom. My son’s small private school has a locked door and the secretary has to physically let you in. Of course she is going to open the door to talk to whoever is standing there so anyone could push her out of the way and get into the school at any time.
They also have “lock down” drills which mostly consist of teaching the kids to hide and to just wait for someone to come and shoot them. I’d prefer that kids would be taught to get out any way possible. I told my son if there is a window, you need to break it, jump out and run. Told him to run from the shooter any way he can. I think my kid’s school is probably a gun free zone but knowing some of the teachers the way I do I suspect a few might be carrying. I hope so.

MrLiberty

September 24th, 2013
9:24 am

Just ask any inmate how safe they feel in prison. Absolutely NO difference in government run schools. Why are you not homeschooling your children or doing whatever it takes to get them out of these institutions?

jarvis

September 24th, 2013
10:47 am

MrLiberty was homeschooled. I rest my argument.

WitchyWoman

September 24th, 2013
11:02 am

I love how people who have gotten their educations are always bad mouthing the school systems. Its like the people who got to enjoy Christmas, Halloween, and Easter as kids that take all that away from there own kids. Even if you were homeschooled, you more than likely still went to some type of institution to get a college degree or trade. People are constantly saying schools are prisons, you should homeschool your kid. Well guess what, Even if you homeschool, you are still conforming in some type of way to get your child educated…even unschoolers are subscribing to some form of group think. If school environments are so bad, then why do so many homeschoolers send their children to some type of coop where…wait for it… many of them are educated in a school type setting. It’s just different degrees of the same thing.

FCM

September 24th, 2013
11:03 am

“To better ensure the safety of our children we have revised our lunch visitor policy. Parent(s)/Guardian(s) must send a note in the morning if their child is expecting a lunch visitor that day. Please specify the visitor’s name and relationship to your child in the letter. Lunch visitor notes will be forwarded to the front office for reference when the visitor checks in. We will apologetically deny any visitor for whom a letter has not been sent. ”

I do wonder how many “random” guests came by to have lunch with the kids prior to this policy.

“As of Wednesday, May 1st [2013] the general public will have to present a photo ID to gain access to the building through the Main Entrance. A button on the entry pad, located to the left of the front door, will have to be pushed to gain entry into the building.”

The above policy is apparently the one Jarvis and TallMom were talking about as well.

Both policies above are quoted from the school website. In the afternoon I pick my child up and the door is held open with no buzzing etc. They do ask for ID if they do not know the person but not until they have entered the building. So there is apparently room for improvement.

Me

September 24th, 2013
11:20 am

Someone with determination will find a manner by which to carry out whatever endeavor is planned. Let’s say they cannot determine a manner by which to enter the school. This doesn’t prevent them from shooting out windows, doors, etc. or, for that matter, waiting silently and hidden until shooting from a distance as kids board the school bus. Spend the $$$ on “good people with guns”. Is this not what “bad people with guns” most fear and respect?

MrLiberty

September 24th, 2013
11:36 am

Jarvis – MrLiberty had the wonderful good fortune to have parents that did whatever it took to keep me out of the government school system. That option was in fact Montessori and other private schools. I have done my own reading (mostly John Taylor Gatto) to become informed about the true purpose of the government education system (hint, it isn’t education – but that should be obvious) and the wonderful benefits that can come to both parents and children alike when they take on the challenge of home based education.

Its certainly not for everyone, but why, seriously, would you willingly send your precious child to what has become little more than a prison/day care facility for kids? Government can’t keep prisoners safe in prison (or drugs, violence, etc. out). Why would you think it would be possible for them in a school? And is that REALLY what you want your child to have to deal with every day?

But keep making those sound and well-thought-out arguments.

Denise

September 24th, 2013
11:38 am

Question – if the school is teaching the students where to hide, if the shooter is a student, won’t he/she know where to look for his/her intended victims, especially if they are random? If someone wants to shoot the most students and they know all of 10th grade is told to run to the library where do you think they are going? I’m with jarvis…RUN! Jump out the window (if you can). I’d be scared to be a sitting duck HOPING they wouldn’t come in the room I’m hiding.

homeschooler

September 24th, 2013
12:08 pm

I have to agree with Mr. Liberty. I recently talked to a 5 yr old who told me his name and then said “and my number is 56784″ (not his real number). I was confused until he showed me a piece of paper with an “ID number” from school. Upon speaking with several friends and others I learned that school kids now have assigned numbers for book checkouts, lunches etc. I know it only makes sense with same names and different spellings etc.. A number must make things easier but it still kind of makes me think, well, that kids in school are just a number. Maybe I wouldn’t have felt this way had the little boy not identified himself by the number. The very first thing I thought of was “wow, that’s like a prison ID number”. Seriously, I know I’m not being completely rational but I’m very happy my son is at a school where pretty much only first names are used. I don’t WANT him to be in such a large institution where numbers are needed. And don’t get me started on the local middle school near me. There are so many criminals and cops at that school it very closely resembles a prison.

Becky

September 24th, 2013
12:17 pm

My twos school has locked doors and the buzzer..

@MrLiberty..Why should I care if an inmate feels safe in prison? I didn’t put them there, but I’m paying for them to stay there..

FCM

September 24th, 2013
12:37 pm

This was also on the school website: “In an effort to keep you informed, the Cobb County Police Department is creating a presence in school again this year. They would like to become familiar with the building so you may see them walking around or driving through our parking lot. Please do not be alarmed. ”

@ homeshooler…they use the ID # (often part of the SSN if their parent supplied it) for buying lunch, computers, grades, and checking out books. It is not so much the school is so large. It is a PIN (Personal Identification Number) because the schools have moved into technology. The single number follows the child from K – 12 (or if it is the SSN forever) and allows the school keep the entry on a single person. This is actually no different than your SSN used for loans, credit applications etc.

@ Mr Liberty–there is an alternative. PARENTS teach the children to think at home. They teach the children to challenge what they are learning not to just accept it. You make the changes from within in the system itself. For instance, one child was told to write about Rosa Parks so I helped her research and she learned “Joann Robinson, a black university professor and activist in Montgomery, had suggested the idea of a bus boycott months before the Parks arrest. Two other women had been arrested on buses in Montgomery before Parks and were considered by black leaders as potential clients for challenging the law.” This was not something that had been part of the discussion at school, indeed it was not something I had learned in school either. I do support Ms. Park’s reasons for what she did, but I find it equally important to understand that Leaders of the time were looking for the “right situation” to make their voices most clearly heard. (quote is from http://www.thehenryford.org/exhibits/rosaparks/story.asp).

motherjanegoose

September 24th, 2013
1:20 pm

I visited schools near Charleston, SC last spring. I had to present my driver’s license and it was placed in a special scanner that kept a copy in the computer, front office and spit out a name badge for me ( replica of my licence imbedded).
The county can check your license and flag it if there are any problems and you are not allowed inside. I thought it was interesting!

jarvis

September 24th, 2013
1:22 pm

Mr.Liberty, I don’t argue with people so stuck in their beliefs that they completely ignore the other side of the argument. I find it much more amusing to just poke you with a stick.

How many quality friendships have you had in your life?

WitchyWoman

September 24th, 2013
1:33 pm

Thank you @ FCM. I was going to comment about those posts, but decided against it. People have their biases and will wear blinders when they believe they are right or know better. Unfortunately, there is NO perfect solution for anything, We can only strive to make things better.

As for the topic, which I didn’t comment on earlier and I should have. I think schools are darned if they do and darned if they don’t. If they try to make it better, people complain. If they don’t do anything, people complain. There is NO safe place. Not even your home. The weird part is that statistically, the kids in schools run a greater risk of a family member shooting them (regardless of race) than getting shot at school, It doesn’t make any of it right, but it is a more realistic view on the subject. Every time we step into a public place, we run the risk of some nut going on a rampage to prove some point. We can all only do the best we can..including schools.

Jessica

September 24th, 2013
1:40 pm

@FCM, I understand the idea of making changes from within the system, but change takes time. Kids who are stuck in that system today won’t get another chance at a good education when/if the problems get fixed. I hope public education improves, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my kids’ minds, safety, and happiness for the cause. That is one of the many reasons we have chosen to homeschool our kids.

FCM

September 24th, 2013
2:30 pm

@ Jessica and if you wish to do that great. I have nephews that are homeschooled and neices in private school. The homeschoolers are ill-mannered and have no idea how to behave. They have few boundries, and do poorly in their academics. The private schoolers do not seem any better off than my children in the public schools.

Homeschool and Private schools are not an option for me. I am a single parent. I cannot afford private school and there is nobody home to teach.

I went to school at Holy Innocents’ back in 1970s & 80s. So I have a very good idea of what that kind of education means. What is really apparent is that education is a high priority among (most) homeschoolers and private schoolers.

From what the school administrators have shared that is not always the case in the public schools. That is sad and is something to be concerned with as my children bring friends home.

I made the choice to live in East Cobb and my children attend some of the best schools they have there. Education is the #1 item on my children’s list. When the grades are not what they should be the privledges get pulled. My grandmother never made it past 4th grade, but she made sure to keep learning and trust me her kids were educated. My Dad (her son) made sure that my brother and I knew we were expected to make school #1. In the end, (and I know catlady, MJG and DB have supported this idea, it is the PARENTS attitude about education that will make the biggest difference.

catlady

September 24th, 2013
3:51 pm

Not sure ours is safer, vut it feels safer. We have an SRO who is taking an active role in neglected students as well as kids we have who have been violent to their classmates for years., I think he is great. I think his presence has been very positive. It also puts parents on notice that they better not try their intimidation crap, or the “hit back” scenario.

catlady

September 24th, 2013
5:10 pm

Georgia students, for the purpose of their records, are assigned a GTID number so that their record can more easily be tracked. It is NOT the same as lunch number or SS number.

Seventh Scent of a Wayward Tire.

September 24th, 2013
5:30 pm

Isn’t still kind of early in the school year to be comparing safety to last year?

GCPS Parent

September 25th, 2013
7:33 am

GCPS has added resource officers county wide, installed more cameras, etc. etc. etc.

However, until the schools (especially GCPS) stop letting parents from other areas (APS, Dekalb)steal from the local taxpayers by sending their hoodlums to high profile schools for a “better education” (dreams of an athletic scholarship), then nothing will get better.

Public schools have to take in all kinds, even hoodlums. It is a shame when your top rated HS has “kids” roaming the halls with ankle monitors.

FCM

September 25th, 2013
7:56 am

@ catlady, you do know more about the schools than I do. However, the kids ID was used for all the things I mentioned in both counties we have attend schools. They told me the number was the same in their old school district as it is in Cobb.